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All Maxa Beam Searchlights are equipped with a strobe function that makes the Maxa Beam a Powerful Non-Lethal Device.
Handheld Maxa Beam Searchlights are used to temporarily disable and disorient targets in tactical entries and combat situations. Mounted Maxa Beam Searchlights are used as non-lethal devices to deter or halt the progress of an approaching target. The U.S. Border Patrol is currently using a series of computer-controlled Maxa Beam searchlights to protect the U.S.-Mexico Border.
Standard handheld and remote-controlled Maxa Beam Searchlights are programmed with a steady strobe that varies between 90W and 35W with a 1-31 Hz frequency and 3-63% duration. The user can adjust the frequency (how many times the strobe flashes per second) and duration (what percentage of each strobe cycle is high or low beam) using the light’s 4-way toggle control switch. For more information on programming the strobe, see the Programming section of the searchlight Operation Manual.
Maxa Beam Crew-Served Weapon Lights (CSWL) come equipped with a factory-programmed strobe that automatically sweeps between 8-15 Hz at 38% duration. These parameters were defined by Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division because the strobe sweep is a more effective tool for creating ocular disruption. The frequency and duration of the CSWL’s strobe sweep cannot be altered by the operator.
The following excerpt from the article You Strobe, I Strobe, We All Strobe Together by Lindsey Bertomen explains how and why strobe lights are an effective tool for military and law enforcement personnel. The full article is available on Officer.com.
The science of strobing
Strobes have been installed in residential and commercial alarm systems for decades. These systems are known to cause mental confusion and a sense of immediacy, as well as short-circuit the decision-making process. When combined with the piercing sound of an alarm, strobes are effective at removing personnel from an area. The military also has experimented with using strobe lighting "to disorient and confuse personnel" and reduce collateral damage.
But not all of the effects of strobe lighting have been completely explained. It is known that the human brain prefers continuity in order to process information. If the stimuli from different senses seem incongruent, it causes confusion.
Scientists have determined, unlike eyes in animals, the human eye is incapable of detecting motion. Motion is perceived by the human brain and not from sensory input to the eye. Because of this, human perception of color and motion rely on the brain's ability to decipher smooth regular motion. When perception input arrives in segments, the sensory information received by the brain is confused.
Any light source that overloads the photoreceptors in the eye will produce an afterimage, sometimes called persistence of vision. This can occur in two phases: The first phase arises from the immediate discharge of the photoreceptors, the second from a loss of sensitivity. Both produce afterimages. Persistent images alone can short-circuit the brain. Strobing tactical lights work because they do not allow the photoreceptors to reset, which shocks an individual's vision.
Strobing forces the brain's perception input to arrive in segments, albeit regular intervals. Officers can increase the perceptual disparity (and officer safety) by moving while strobing. The afterimages strobing produces further increases perceptual disparity effects.
Certain types of drugs may also amplify the effects of strobing, compounding the effect, though "Law Enforcement Technology" researchers could not find any data supporting this theory. Most officers know certain drugs, especially stimulants, dilate the pupils of the eye, which is evident even in bright sunlight. These dilated pupils also may be less likely (depending on the drug of choice) to rebound quickly enough in response to a bright light.
The Bucha Effect
Another effect of strobing can be The Bucha Effect, which is a phenomenon that occurs when a person experiences dizziness and confusion when exposed to strobe lighting. It is named after Dr. Bucha who identified the effect when asked to investigate a series of unexplained helicopter crashes in the 1950s. After the crash, surviving crew members said they experienced dizziness and disorientation from the strobing affect of rotating helicopter blades.
The Bucha Effect is similar to photosensitive epilepsy, a form of seizures triggered by visual stimuli that occurs in patterns. However, it is not limited to persons with epilepsy. About 3 percent of the general population is susceptible to patterned lights, flashing computer screens and other visual stimuli, such as sunlight through a row of trees viewed from a moving car. The Bucha Effect is not a seizure but has similar symptoms. Like photosensitive epilepsy, its effects are mitigated by distance, relationship of source to the periphery of vision and brightness.
The Bucha Effect may partially explain what happens when a person is strobed. Residual or persistence of vision may be the other part of the equation. Whatever the mental effects, strobing works.
(Reprinted with permission from Officer.com and the author.)
Peak Beam Systems, Inc.
3938 Miller Rd., Newtown Square, PA 19073
Phone: 610-353-8505, Fax: 610-353-8411